Shots traded with military over stealth-fighter costs
Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page appears at Commons public safety committee on the expansion of prisons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, March 23, 2011 12:52PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:16AM EDT
OTTAWA - The battle over the cost of the Harper government's stealth fighter has escalated into a war of numbers between the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Defence Department.
Kevin Page today released a rebuttal to senior defence officials, who questioned the math in his latest report, which says the cost of the F-35 Lightning II could reach $30 billion over three decades.
Last week, an assistant deputy minister at the Defence Department said the budget officer made a "mathematical error" in calculating the unit cost of the planes, and that estimates on long-term maintenance were erroneous as well.
The F-35 program in the U.S. has seen huge cost overruns, which Page says will drive up the price tag from an estimated US $75 million to US $148 million for each plane.
The department dismisses the figure, but Page pointed out today the Pentagon's latest estimate is US $151 million and that Washington does not sell aircraft to allies at a price less than what it pays.
The jet-fighter deal is expected to be a big issue in the expected spring election because the Liberals have promised to cancel it.